Holistic Diabetic Neuropathy Treatments

September 11, 2015

About 60-70% of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy, which is nerve damage.  What are the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy and best holistic treatments?  Salonpas sat down with Dr. Robert Pomahac, a board certified chiropractic physician and certified wellness practitioner at MaxHealth and Dave Endres, licensed physical therapist and co-founder of the SPEAR Physical Therapy Center in New York City,  to discuss treatment and lifestyle options to reduce diabetic neuropathic pain:PeripheralNeuropathy

What is neuropathy and what are the signs and symptoms?

LosAngelesChiropractorDrRob1“Neuropathy means nerve disease or damage,” says Dr. Pomahac. “Symptoms can range from numbness or tingling to pricking sensation or muscle weakness. Severe symptoms may include burning pain, muscle wasting, paralysis, or organ or gland dysfunction. Neuropathy is a progressive condition, meaning it tends to get worse with time. If left untreated for too long, the nerve damage can reach a point where there is simply nothing that can be done. This is why early detection and treatment of peripheral neuropathy is critical to getting the best results.

One of the most dangerous aspects of peripheral neuropathy is the effect that it can have on balance. If the nerves in the feet are damaged and not sending good communication to the brain this results in alterations in balance. Many patients with neuropathy report that they feel unsteady on their feet, or have a hard time walking in a straight line.”

What tests can someone take to learn if they have neuropathy?

“Since the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are highly variable, a thorough neurological examination is required to figure out the cause of the symptoms,” says Dr. Pomahac. “A complete medical history discussing the symptoms, work environment, social hobbies, exposure to environmental toxins, use of alcohol and or drugs, infectious diseases and family history of neurological diseases are vitally important in helping properly diagnose and treat effectively.

Specific tests to help diagnose if you are suffering with peripheral neuropathy include nerve conduction velocity (NCV), MRI and even an electromyography (EMG), and superficial pain sensation testing.”

Why do 60-70% of people with diabetes also suffer from neuropathy?

Dr. Robert Pomahac, MaxHealth LA

Dr. Robert Pomahac, MaxHealth LA

“Damage to delicate nerve fibers can occur when you have prolonged exposure to high blood sugar,” says Dr. Pomahac. “High blood sugar interferes with the ability of the nerves to transmit their signals and it also weakens the walls of the small blood vessel that supply the nerves with oxygen and nutrients.”

Physical trauma, infection, repetitive injury, metabolic problems and exposure to toxins can lead to neuropathy. What can someone do to avoid having this condition?

“Neuropathy may be as a result of spinal pressure in the neck or lower back,” says Dr. Pomahac. “Having a complete diagnostic evaluation of the spinal alignment through an X-Ray analysis to determine structural stress of disc pressure on the nerves causing neuropathy is a key part of prevention. Working on standing and sitting posture and understanding body neutral helps to reduce the overall stress on your body and may help with nerve pressure. Another treatment that may be beneficial is decompression therapy to help remove disc pressure. If you are having peripheral neuropathy a treatment including light laser to helps to create vasodilation, or widening of the blood vessels, and vibrational therapy to stimulate new capillary and nerve regeneration. Finally, eliminating inflammation-based foods like sugar, soy, dairy, gluten and processed foods is recommended.”

Are there any recommended prescription or OTC drugs for neuropathy?

Dave Endres, Co-Founder, SPEAR Physical Therapy

Dave Endres, Co-Founder, SPEAR Physical Therapy

“We work closely with a patient’s doctor to ensure that their pain management is safety managed through drug therapy when necessary,” says Endres.  “However, if there is a choice between oral or topical pain therapies, we encourage the transdermal route every time.  OTC transdermal pain therapy, such as offered in the Salonpas® line of topical products, ensures a control-released delivery of pain medication.”family-of-products-small

“I think the combination of eastern and western medicine supplements is the best option for people suffering with peripheral neuropathy,” says Dr. Pomahac.  “Some natural herbs and supplements you should consider after taking with your physician include; alpha lipoic acid, which is a powerful antioxidant used to treat nerve damage, N-Acetyl Cysteine helps detoxify the body and Magnesium soothes the nervous system. Vitamin B deficiency has shown to cause neuropathic pain. Cayenne used as massage oil is beneficial Skullcap and evening primrose oil both help with the nervous system as a whole.”

Are there any recommended exercises for neuropathy patients?

Dave Endres surfing.

Dave Endres surfing.

“Physical therapy is used to alleviate many sources of pain, including neuropathic pain, muscle cramps, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, hamstring pain, back, shoulder and neck pain, just to name a few,” says Dave Endres.

“Exercising 30 minutes a day at least three or four days a week aids chronic pain management by increasing endurance, muscle strength, and flexibility in the muscles and joints,” says Endres.

“Consider a vibrational plate while performing resistance training,” says Dr. Pomahac “Aqua therapy with resistance, yoga, tai chi, swimming are all beneficial Using cardio equipment like a recumbent-bike removes balance issues associated with lack of extremity sensation. Weight loss and improvement in lean muscle will benefit any person and help take pressure of your neurological system.”

How can you control the symptoms of neuropathy?

“The key is prevention,” says Dr. Pomahac.  “Proper foot care is essential which includes cleaning and inspecting your feet daily. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes that fit your feet. Wear socks with padding on the pressure points of your feet. Cut your toenails straight across or get your foot doctor to properly trim them regularly. Regular warm baths provide some relief from mild nerve pain.”

For more information on neuropathy, visit The Neuropathy Association, the Neuropathy Action Foundation and the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy.

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